Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is a gift.
~ Dewitt Jones ~
For some light entertainment, visit our new page: WINDCHASE
about Phyllis and Jineen's trip to Botswana.
offers fun and informal Jumping Clinics
each winter, and at other times of the year as scheduling
Join us for fun and instructive jumping on Sunday
afternoons throughout the winter.
Click here for more information.
Whoo-hoo, how about those Redskins!
Sorry Dallas Cowboys, but you are losers.
RG3 and company are going to the Playoffs!
Happy New Year.
The Windchase Jumping mini-clinics are starting up right after New
Year’s! The first one will be Sunday January 6, unless
the Redskins have a play-off game that day, in which case it will
be Saturday January 5. If
you wish to be included on my mailing list for these clinics, drop
me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more info, click here.
generally say that White Christmases are over-rated; snow and cold
always make for more work around the barn.
But I do have to admit that the Christmas Eve snowfall
yesterday afternoon it was beautiful and peaceful.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled
Last night the Geminid Meteor shower coincided with clear skies
and a moonless sky. I
stood out in the frosty night, watching the show that the heavens put
a perfect night for starwatching; crisp, clear, and quiet.
I walked around the edge of the lake (hoping I didn’t miss my
step in the dark and fall in), with the frozen grass crunching beneath
my feet, my steadfast dogs by my side. The
warm glow from the windows of the house was mirrored in the lake,
along with the Christmas lights. I
watched the reflections of the brightest stars in the water, and then
turned my gaze upwards to the constellations, hanging in the sky like
the Hunter was rising in the eastern sky, hanging above Canis Major
(the Big Dog) and that brightest of stars, Sirius.
Cygnus the Swan soared above the horizon, and high overhead the
orb of Jupiter shone radiantly among the horns of Taurus.
Orion the Hunter
I watched the shooting stars, spellbound.
Some streaked boldly across the sky in a blaze of glory, while
others were faint, a mere puff of light, like a whisper.
Seeing the meteors flash across the vaulted sky made me feel
small, an insignificant speck in the universe; yet at the same time I
felt grand, lucky to witness such a splendid spectacle that had been
going on since time immemorial, and will still be going on long after
we are all gone. It made
me think back to when I was a child, contemplating the age-old
questions: Stars and space - do they go on forever?
And if not, what is beyond them?
Ah, isn’t the universe grand?
How cool of a date is that?
Winter is here, but the weather has
not been too bad so far. We
have been enjoying getting to school the young horses cross-country in
December, not something that happens every year.
I went to Colorado Springs last week for the USEA annual
convention, which was held at The Broadmoor.
It is a fabulous resort, though a bit on the expensive side for
me. Practically every tree
on the grounds was lit with white lights at night, which was
spectacular. It was a good
meeting; David O’Connor introduced his plan for training the High
Performance riders, and a terrific sense of excitement was evident all
weekend. It will be
exciting to watch and see what the future brings for the U.S.
now, time to get into the Christmas spirit!
I am thankful for living on such a
beautiful place as Windchase, and for the
people and animals around me. I am very thankful for the
great group of trainers, and working students who help make this
farm so special. I am thankful for my good friends, and for a close-knit family, most of
visiting this week. I
am thankful for riding good horses over beautiful countryside.
For the loyal lurchers at my side, the yellow kitties
that sleep on my bed at night, and for RG3.
I am thankful to be able to offer a safe haven to the deer, the wild turkey
flock that roams the fields some thirty strong, and the wild
geese landing on the lake at sunset. And of
course, I am thankful or the servicemen and women who keep us safe
and free - may they have a safe and warm Thanksgiving themselves,
hopefully in the company of loved ones.
seems an appropriate time to thank my excellent staff for all they
do at Windchase.
How lucky I am to
have such a great group of people around me!
Reed, as well as being a dear friend, has been an integral part of
Windchase since the beginning twenty-five years ago.
She keeps everything running smoothly, and is outstanding
at troubleshooting and veterinary care.
She is an excellent dressage rider and trainer, and without
her Windchase would not be nearly as special.
Anderson-Blank has been with us a year now, and has stepped into
the role of Windchase’s rider and trainer and done a fantastic
job. She is an
exceptional rider, doing a great job on every type of horse –
and a wonderful instructor as well.
We are so happy to have her as part of the team.
Wardle has been with us five years now, and is an important part
of the operation. Riding,
teaching, guiding the working students in the barn – she does it
all really well. Heidi
recently posted some insights into her progression at Windchase on
her blog; read it at: http://takeachanceinva.wordpress.com/.
are lucky to have an exceptional group of Working Students at the
Jessica, Hannah and Tori all work hard, ride well, and do a super
job in the barn and with the horses.
I am very lucky to have such an efficient and dedicated
group of students staffing the barn.
Popkins continues to keep the farm looking great.
Mowing, weeding, repairing fences and stalls, building
cross-country jumps – these are just a few of the things he
does. With 70 horses
on the farm there is always something broken, and Kenny is largely
responsible for fixing it.
of course, Windchase itself is a special place; there always seems
to be a sort of magic attached to this spot on the earth, full of
peace and beauty. Horses
and people are usually happy here, and it is a haven for wildlife.
November 15, 2012
Windchase finished up the Event Season with good outings for
the young horses at both Waredaca and the November Start Trials at
Loch Moy. Astrana moved up
to Novice at Waredaca, placing fourth with Cindy. Aquilla,
Phoenix Star, Warrior Queen, Soul of Venus, Sundowners, and Bling all
competed successfully at Beginner Novice at Loch Moy, with Cindy and
Heidi riding. Look for
these promising youngsters on the Horses for
Bling and Heidi at Loch Moy
I have been having a lot of fun riding my new
horse from Ireland, Kilcooley. He
is green, but feels amazing to ride, and is a real horse for the
We have an exciting group of homebred three-year-olds that we
broke in this summer, and we will get more serious with their training
this winter as they turn four. The
more experienced competition horses have had a bit of a break after
their last Event, but they will soon return to full work as well.
So we have quite a variety of nice horses in work, and plenty
to keep us occupied.
be starting up the winter Jumping Mini-clinics before long, more on
that later. Right now I am
busy getting ready for Thanksgiving, as most of my family will be here
for the holiday. I expect
to be cooking for 30!
We are still here! Fortunately
everyone here at Windchase made it through the storm safely.
case you haven’t heard, we have been having a wee bit of weather
here along the East Coast in the form of Hurricane Sandy. This
mega-storm was 800 miles across, bringing damaging winds, torrential
rains, and heavy snows at higher elevations.
The weather forecasters had given us plenty of time to
prepare for extended power outages, and we were ready.
When the center of the storm passed through
north of us last night, we
got over six inches of rain and sustained high winds, but it was
not as severe as it might have been. It
is still raining and cold, but we did not have any major damage,
and the worst conditions are now past.
Purcellville was hit harder than we were; Windchase is
nestled in between Short Hill Mountain and the Blue Ridge, and the
mountains blocked the worst of the winds.
We did not lose our electricity (so far, knock on wood!),
but over six million homes are without power in the wake of the
thoughts go out to everyone up around New York, where the
conditions were much worse than here.
October 28, 2012
The autumn weather the past week has been beautiful, and it
has been fun to get out and enjoy it.
Jineen and I snuck off to Sugarloaf Mountain for a day of
hiking on Tuesday, which was really lovely.
I have often admired this mountain’s silhouette from Loch
Moy or Morven Park, so it was nice to finally climb to its summit.
on Wednesday I had an opportunity to go kayaking on the Potomac
River with my friend Mary Kimm, which was simply amazing.
Mary is an experienced kayaker, but she was nice enough not
to laugh at my bumbling paddling skills too much.
The surface of the water was like a mirror, and the autumn
foliage was in full color. It
was incredibly peaceful and beautiful.
We got quite close to numerous great blue herons, as well
as seeing an assortment of ducks and a cormorant.
But the highlight of the trip was watching a pair of bald
eagles as they flew above the river and perched in the trees.
They are incredibly majestic birds, and it is always
special to get to see one.
But now the weather has turned, and
Hurricane Sandy is coming! This
mega-storm is moving up the coast and they are saying we are going
to have torrential rains and high winds for the next two days.
And oh, they just issued a Blizzard Warning, so we may get
heavy snow! Lots of
tree damage, flooding, and long term power outages are pretty much
a certainty. We have
filled the generator gas cans, battened down the hatches, and are
prepared to ride out whatever the ‘Perfect Storm’ may bring.
See you on the other side!
October 25, 2012
We have been enjoying a charmed Event season with glorious
weather and near perfect footing for each competition weekend, and
last week was no exception. We
took a whole crew of horses and riders to the starter trial at
Loch Moy, and most of them went really well.
Cindy won divisions of Beginner
Novice with Pat and Jim Bewley’s Warrior Queen, and also with
Pedro Gutierrez’s Astrana de la Galerna.
She was also placed 2nd on my homebred Phoenix
Star, and was also 3rd in the Elementary on Karin
of Venus. Not a bad
students Hannah Milne moved up to Training level on Scooter, bred
by Karin Harper, and the pair jumped around the course like pros.
Tori Rosenblatt also had a super ride in the Training with her
Hannah Milnes on Scooter,
and Tori Rosenblatt riding Aileron
I won an Elementary
division with Sundowners, and was also in
the ribbons with Bling in her first
completion. I had a
particularly fun time doing my first competition since having a
shoulder joint replacement earlier this year, and I rode around with a
big grin on my face all day! Jessica
Gebbet had good goes with Gandara de la Galerna and Elan, with both
mares moving up and jumping clean around their first Novice.
Look for all of these on our Horses for
Four-year-old gelding by
The other exciting news is
that my new horse from Ireland arrived. When
Jineen and I visited the Emerald Isle on vacation in August, we found
a lovely four-year-old gelding by King’s Master (by Master Imp).
It took a while to get all the details sorted out, but he
finally shipped from Ireland and arrived at Windchase recently.
He looks to be super talented, and has a wonderful personality.
I look forward to putting him into training and seeing what he
Another lovely Eventing weekend, this time at the Maryland
Horse Trials at Loch Moy. Congratulations
to Cindy; she had a super ride in the Open Intermediate with her own
Windsor, jumping double clear and finishing 8th.
Cindy and Windsor
The starter trial at Seneca Valley last weekend was a great
outing for the young horses. It
is a great venue for getting the youngsters out in a competitive but
still relaxed atmosphere, and once again we had perfect Eventing
Our two new Irish mares from Mexico
went really well, with Astrana winning the Beginner Novice with Cindy,
and Gandara placing 3rd in that division with Jessica.
Heidi was also 3rd in BN with Elan. These
horses are all now very confirmed at this level and will move up soon.
Emma Dixon was also well placed on Stella.
Aquilla and Cindy
It was a great first outing for the Windchase
Cindy placed 2nd in the BBN with Angel, and also
had good rides on my two fancy homebreds, Aquilla and Phoenix Star.
Heidi was in the ribbons with Sundowners, who went like a champ
at his first competition. Look
for all of these talented youngsters on our Horses
for Sale page.
We had a beautiful weekend for the Seneca Valley horse trials
last weekend, and the horses went well.
Highlights included Cindy placing in the Open Preliminary with
both River Star and Windsor. Peerless
also went nicely for Cindy in the Novice, and Hannah was in the
ribbons on the enthusiastic Jump for Joy.
As you may remember, we were saddened
when Lucky the Duck passed away this spring, but now, we are happy to
announce that Windchase has some new additions.
Mom and I went to the Clarke County Fair a few weeks ago (which
was a real hoot by the way, with farm animals exhibits of every
description, a Ferris wheel, barrel racing, calf roping, bull riding,
and a tractor pull competition) to shop for ducks.
After intense negotiations with a nine-year-old boy (he asked
$20 a piece and we paid it) we came home with two lovely white Peking
ducks – we named them Jewel and Venus. Never ones for moderation, we
then went on Craig’s List, where we found three Rouen ducks and two
grey Chinese geese. (It
was important to get some geese, because there are only two hundred or
so wild Canadian ones living on the lake.)
So now we
have this tightknit group of five ducks and two geese, swimming
together on the lake and roaming the yard.
They are quite tame, and like to follow people and dogs about.
In the evenings I call them and they come quacking and waddling
up the hill, and go into the chicken house for the night.
When I let them out in the morning, I generally find they have
left me several eggs, which are delicious by the way.
has cooled off, and it has been in the forties at night recently, so
the water has gotten too cold for my evening swims.
But it is still nice to sit by the side of the lake at sunset
and enjoy the evening. How
lucky I am to live in such a magical spot!
The Event season is in full swing, and
we had a lovely time at the Maryland Horse Trials this past weekend,
with near perfect weather and ground conditions.
Cindy jumped a great double clear in SJ and XC on River Star in
the Open Preliminary, and it is exciting to watch this talented
Windchase homebred progress. Hannah
Milne did a super job with the little grey mare Jump for Joy (bred by
Karin Harper), placing second in the Novice.
Guy DeCorte’s Irish horse Tulla Gold went well for Heidi,
placing 7th in the Training.
Heidi also had an excellent ride on Vito DelVento’s homebred
Hanoverian mare Elan, who made her Eventing debut in the Beginner
Novice. Emma Dixon was
also 4th in the BN on her talented mare Stella, and Tara
Swersie had a good run with Whiskey Tango.
So all in all, a successful weekend for the Windchase horses
and riders. Much thanks to
the folks at Loch Moy for putting on such a super Event!
Cindy Anderson-Blank on
River Star, and Hannah Milne riding Jump for Joy
This morning was especially
beautiful, with a crystal clear blue sky and a cool nip in the air.
While I was schooling one of the young horses in the outdoor
arena, I suddenly remembered what day this is.
Where were you when it happened?
I was riding in the same ring on another exceptionally lovely
morning much like this one, eleven years ago, when I heard the news.
Like all who remember that fateful day, I will never forget,
and never be quite the same.
of the things I have been really enjoying this summer is swimming
in the lake almost every evening.
I have always enjoyed a dip in the pond on a hot day, but
after the derecho storm earlier this summer, when the power was out for a
week and it was over a hundred degrees, I got in the routine of ending
the day with a nice long swim at sunset.
It would leave me feeling relaxed yet invigorated, and I
have continued with the habit of taking an evening swim. If
friends and family members come too, then all the better.
Friday was particularly special.
It was the night of the full moon, and my friend Mary came
out to join me for a swim, as did several of the working students.
Being August 31, this
was the second full moon in the same month, which is known as the ‘blue
moon.’ It was a
beautiful clear evening, and we contentedly floated in the lake
watching the sunset colors in the crystal sky deepen to dusk as we
waited for the moon to rise.
turned out that the moon took longer than we had anticipated to
come up over Short Hill Mountain.
Waiting, floating in the water, we watched the occasional
bird flying overhead as the light faded.
But suddenly something went flitting by just above our
heads - a bat! To our
delight, it was soon joined by a dozen others, skimming over the
surface of the water, darting back and forth catching insects.
It was amazing to watch them.
the moon peeked
over the mountain, sliding up out of the trees, huge, bright
orange, like the mountaintop was on fire.
As it topped the horizon, a group of Canadian geese flew
across the sky, crossing in front of the moon before turning to
the lake to come in for a landing.
We watched the moon as it rose free of the earth, and one
by one the stars eased into view, competing with the fiery orb for
luminosity in the darkening sky.
It was magical.
Jineen and I had a fantastic time in Ireland.
We looked at horses and explored ancient castles and
abbeys. We climbed to
the top of a mountain and went to the Connemara Pony Show in
Clifden, Connemara. We
hiked up a mountainside and visited a chapel that was founded over
fifteen hundred years ago by Saint Patrick.
We had dinner with friends, visited the pubs, went to the
Millstreet Horse Show, and stood in a ‘fairly fort’ that
probably originated 1000 years BC.
As I get time I will write up the full trip report and post
it with photos, but it will probably take me several months to get
it all done, so you will have to wait a bit for the full story.
The Rock of Cashel,
County Tipperary, Ireland.
So we are home now and
back to work.
The young horses are coming along nicely, and the autumn
Event Season is just around the corner.
Much thanks to Cindy and Heidi and the working students for
looking after the farm and the horses so well while Jineen and I
The Hore Abbey, in
I would like to offer congratulations to Haley Tucker for
the purchase of Drifter. It
is with mixed feelings that I made the difficult decision to sell
my favorite horse. I
really love Drifter and enjoy riding him, but since I no longer
aspire to ride at the higher levels of Eventing (too many metal
bits in my body for that), I felt it was unfair to hold this
talented horse back. He
has gone to an up-and-coming Young Rider with high aspirations,
and I look forward to seeing the two of them form a bond and move
up through the levels together.
I am keeping one of my special homebreds by Windstar, a
striking charcoal grey named Phoenix Star, to take his place.
Drifter and Phyllis
competing at Middleburg Horse Trials.
With a bit of a break from the events during summer, we are
concentrating on getting the young horses going - I have three
lovely Irish 3-year-olds to get started. They have moved
into the stable to get civilized, while their yearling and
2-year-old friends continue to romp with carefree abandon in the
And now it is time for some fun.
Jineen and I set out for a vacation in Ireland on
Wednesday. We expect
to check out some horses, visit some castles, hike in the
mountains, and have a few pints in the local pubs.
I can’t wait!
celebrated its 25 Year Anniversary last Sunday with a fun potluck
party on the lawn. Lots
of friends were there, both old and new, and we had a great time.
For all those of you who were there, thanks for coming.
For those who couldn’t make it, we missed you!
The weather was great and the company was even greater.
Sean Bowman caught a massive fish
in the lake, an algae-eating carp.
They won’t take go for bait, but this one accidentally
caught its tail as on the hook as it swam by.
As Sean reeled it in and pulled it out of the water by its
tail, his son Ian thought he had caught a mermaid!
The fish was happy to be released after having its photo
Cindy Anderson-Blank; she passed her USEA Instructor’s
Certification Program Assessment at Level III.
your country in International competition is the experience of a
lifetime. I was lucky
enough to get the opportunity to ride in the 24th
Olympic Games, in Seoul, Korea, in 1988. As
we lead up to this summer’s Olympics, I have been reflecting on
my experiences in Seoul, and decided to share them with you.
Follow this link to read about my Olympic
Don’t forget our party; we are celebrating twenty-five years at
current and former clients, students, boarders and friends of Windchase,
come join us for a potluck cookout next Sunday, July 22, from 2:00 pm
until dark. Click here for
information on Windchase’s 25th
Anniversary Party. Bring
any old photos, stories and memories of Windchase in years gone by.
And bring your shorts
or swimsuit for a dip in the lake. And
don’t forget to bring food! Looking
forward to seeing you all.
This image was made from
photographs of sparklers spelling out the letters on the Fourth
July 7, 2012
One of the best parts of summer is ending the day with a swim in
the lake. My niece Stacy and
her seven year old daughter Phyllis have been staying with us the last
two weeks, and with the heat wave and power outage we have been spending
at least an hour in the lake every evening.
The perspective from the surface of the pond is unique.
From in the water, the lake seems immense.
Whether actively swimming or lazily floating on a foam ‘noodle’,
it is a great way to observe the nature around us.
Perspective from the surface
of the pond.
In the hot weather, we have been getting in the water about an
hour before sunset. The
water at the surface is almost bathwater warm, but deeper down it is
refreshingly cool, and there are definite cold spots where the water
comes up from springs. We
paddle along watching dragonflies flitting over the water, and swallows
catching insects, dipping and diving just above the surface.
Fish occasionally jump out of the water with a splash, and a pair
of great blue herons can sometimes be seen flying high overhead on
silent wings. We listen to
the chorus of the cicadas as we watch the sun set among the trees.
a green heron that comes to the lake often, much smaller than his great
blue cousins, and quite shy. But
he seems to be getting used to our swim sessions, and he has been coming
nearer to us each evening. He
likes to perch in the branches of the poplar tree that is lying half in
the lake, downed by the storm. Yesterday
he alighted on a limb just twenty feet from where we were floating and
posed for us, silhouetted against the sky.
Canadian geese that inhabit the lake were wary at first, but they too
are getting accustomed to our presence.
While we were swimming the other day a group of them took off
into flight; they got a running start across the water straight at us,
becoming airborne as they approached and passing just above our heads.
Then another group flew in for a landing, passing right over us
before descending to the lake and gliding across the surface of the
water. It was amazing to
watch - I have seen geese take off and land on the lake a thousand
times, but never before from that perspective.
After exactly one week without it, our power is finally back on! I
realize now how much I had been taking my air conditioner for granted.
Three cheers for the guys from Dominion VA Power who finally got
the electricity restored, so we are just about back to normal.
My internet is still down (sending this courtesy of the neighbor’s
satellite dish), but that is scheduled to be fixed tomorrow. Life
They call it a derecho, the type of severe storm that hit
last Friday night. Apparently
it was a long front of severe lightning storms with sustained high
winds. We are now at five
days and counting without power.
The temperatures continue to hover around 100 degrees.
The phone lines were repaired yesterday, but with no power,
of course the answering machines don’t work.
The Dominion VA Power guys cut the tree off the power lines
where it smashed the horse trailers, but the latest estimate we have for
getting our power back is hopefully by next Friday, but likely as late
as Sunday. The heat is
wearing us down.
have a generator at the barn that runs the pump, so at least we have
water. I also have a
generator at the house to try and run the refrigerator and a few lights,
but it is very temperamental, and I think it hates me. It
often cuts off for no discernible reason. We
can generally coax it into running reasonably well during the day, but
it won’t work overtime, and when evening comes it absolutely refuses
to start again.
My niece Stacy and her daughter
Phylly are visiting the farm this week.
It is great to have Stacy’s help coping with the
generators and preparing meals with no power; hopefully it won’t turn
them both off of life in the countryside!
But we have enjoyed trail riding every day despite the
heat, and Phylly, who just had her seventh birthday, is doing great
Windchase working students and staff have been doing a great job.
The extreme heat makes their job harder, and with no power
for air conditioning or cooking, coping in this weather is tough.
But they have continued to give the horses their usual
excellent care with no complaints, and I really appreciate their great
attitudes. For those
Windchase boarders who might be coming out to ride this week, if you
want to do something to help, bring food or treats for the working
Have a great Independence Day!
Wow, what a storm. A
huge lightning storm with 80 mph winds and mini twisters ripped
through Friday night, with the lightning strikes so close together
that it was like strobe lighting.
I can honestly say it was the second scariest lightning
storm I have ever been. At
one point during the worst of it, there was a huge crash of
thunder simultaneous with a blinding lightning flash and a red
fireball outside the window over the lake; it rattled the house,
and felt and sounded just like the one when lightning hit the barn
in 2008. I dashed out
in the storm in a panic to drive to the barn to see if it was
still there, only to find the driveway blocked by the trees that
had crashed down across the roadway and onto two horse trailers
and the power lines.
Fortunately the barn was still there,
and no people or horses were hurt.
We never did find what that lightning had hit; I think it
may have hit the lightning rods on the barn.
We have over fifty trees down, sadly including the huge
poplar by the lake. Fences
smashed everywhere, and a huge hole in the indoor arena roof.
have no power, no phones, no internet service, and very little
cell service. Apparently
there are still over 27,000 homes in Loudoun County without power,
and they say it will likely take a week to restore it.
We still have downed power lines on the smashed trailer,
though we can cautiously drive under the tree.
I am borrowing internet service from a neighbor with a
generator, so if you need to contact me, try email, but I may not
get to check it every day. Hopefully
order will be restored soon and we will get power and phones back.
Until then, we are hanging in there, and spending a lot of time
cooling off in the lake.
Twenty-five years at Windchase!
We are celebrating with a potluck cookout on Sunday, July
22, starting at 2:00 pm. We
are inviting all current and former clients, students, boarders
and friends of Windchase to come join us.
Click here for information on Windchase’s
25th Anniversary Party.
Windchase in early 1987